Cauliflower Quesadillas

Slightly modified from Charred Cauliflower Quesadillas from Smitten Kitchen

Deb writes: Poblanos are very mild hot peppers. You could use fewer or swap them with a small bell pepper for less heat, or swap one or both with a hotter jalapeño or other chile for more heat.
Kristin says: I didn’t have a poblano on hand, and didn’t want the heat of a jalapeno, so I substituted a small can of chopped fire-roasted green chiles and it was delicious (and made the recipe even easier and quicker).

Yield: 6 quesadillas, serves 6

2 small or 1 large fresh poblano chiles OR 1 can (small or large, as you choose) chopped fire-roasted green chiles
1 small head cauliflower, cored and cut into rough 1-inch chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for cooking quesadillas
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 cups (about 8 ounces) coarsely grated Monterey jack cheese
12 small (7-inch) flour tortillas OR 6 burrito-sized tortillas, cut in half

If using fresh peppers:
Char peppers: Over a gas burner turned to high, hold the poblanos over the flame with tongs and char them until they are black and blistered all over. Alternatively, you could do this under a broiler, turning them frequently for even blistering. Transfer hot chiles to a bowl and cover tightly with foil. Set aside to steam and let their skins loosen while you cook the cauliflower.

Char cauliflower: In a large bowl, toss cauliflower with 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper, until it’s evenly coated. Heat your largest heaviest frying pan over high heat until almost smoking, add cauliflower, and let it cook until each piece has a few black spots but is not mushy, turning and moving it frequently to ensure even cooking. This will take 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer florets to cutting board to rest.

Mix filling:
If using fresh peppers:
When poblanos are cool enough to handle, peel the charred skin off with your fingertips or a paring knife. Pull out and discard stems and seed clusters, and slice peppers into 1/4-inch wide strips.

Add (fresh or canned) peppers to cauliflower on board and give both a rough chop together, reducing the cauliflower to no bigger than 1/2-inch chunks. Return cauliflower and peppers to the large bowl, add scallions, lime juice and salt to taste. You should have about 2 cups of cauliflower filling.

Assemble and cook quesadillas: Lay out 6 tortillas and spread 1/3 cup cauliflower filling and 1/3 cup shredded cheese on each. Place second 6 tortillas on top as lids. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Once hot, coat lightly with olive oil and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook quesadillas until browned underneath, about 3 to 4 minutes. Carefully a flip — a large, thin spatula helps here — and repeat on the second side. Repeat with remaining quesadillas.

To serve: Cut quesadillas into wedges and serve with your choice of fixings. Two choices are below.

Cumin-Lime Crema

1/2 cup sour cream or Mexican crema
A few gratings fresh lime zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of salt

Combine, adjust seasonings to taste, and serve alongside quesadillas.

Lazy Taco Slaw

1 bag coleslaw mix, or 3 cups finely shredded red cabbage and 1 coarsely grated carrot
Coarse salt
Juice of half a lime
2 scallions, sliced thin
A dollop of mayonnaise, sour cream or plain yogurt
A dash of hot sauce (optional)
1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley leaves

Toss cabbage mix, salt and lime together in a large bowl; set aside for 5 minutes. It will shrink down a bit. Stir in scallions, then mayo and hot sauce. Adjust seasonings/ingredients to taste, then stir in cilantro leaves. Serve alongside quesadillas or any of your favorite tortilla-clad meals.

Published in: on June 5, 2021 at 1:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Easy Caesar Dressing

Slightly modified from Smitten Kitchen

2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 small garlic clove, minced (I used powder the first time and will try fresh next time)
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce or 1 to 2 anchovies, minced
1 teaspoon smooth dijon mustard
1 to 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons canola oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Shake it all up in a small jar.

Published in: on January 16, 2021 at 6:56 am  Leave a Comment  

Mushroom, Onion & Greens Melt

For one marvelous sandwich:

1 Tablespoon olive oil or butter or a combination
3 mushrooms, cut in thirds, then 1/4″ slices
about 2 Tablespoons of chopped onion or shallot
1 large handful baby arugula
about 10 large basil leaves, chiffonade
salt, to taste
1/2 Tillamook sharp cheddar Farmstyle (thick) slice
3 thin slices provolone
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
soft butter
2 slices Trader Joe’s Sandwich Sourdough Bread or Sumano’s Watsonville Sourdough Loaf

In a small skillet over medium heat, warm the butter and/or olive oil. When hot, add the onions, and a bit of salt, and saute until they begin to soften.

Meanwhile, heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Butter one side of one slice of the bread. Spread mustard on the other side, and place it butter-side-down in the large skillet. Break up the cheddar cheese into a few pieces and distribute it evenly on the mustard-side of the bread. Cover with 1.5 slices of the thin provolone.

Push the onions to one side of the small skillet. In the now-empty side, add a touch more oil or butter if needed, and then the mushrooms. Salt them, and let them cook until they are as done as you like. Stir together with the onions, then place the arugula and basil on top and cover. Let the greens steam for about a minute, then remove the lid and stir all together, adding a bit more salt if needed, and let cook for about 30 seconds more.

Pick up the small skillet and carefully transfer the mushrooms, onions, and greens onto the melted-cheese-covered bread in the large skillet. Top with the other 1.5 slices of provolone. Butter one side of the remaining piece of bread and put it on top of the sandwich, butter-side up.

Check the bottom of the sandwich – it is probably perfectly browned now. Using a wide spatula, and holding the sandwich together a bit with your other hand, flip the sandwich over to brown the other side and melt the cheese on that side.

When the second side is nicely browned, remove the sandwich to a cutting board. Cut your sandwich as you like – I like to do 4 vertical strips.

Serve with fruit.

Published in: on December 19, 2020 at 1:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili

From Eating Well Test Kitchen

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium-large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
4 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground chipotle chile (or smoked paprika)
¼ teaspoon salt
2½ cups water
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes (or tomatoes with chiles)
4 teaspoons lime juice
optional toppings:
chopped fresh cilantro
sour cream (for non-vegans)

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sweet potato and onion and cook, stirring often, until the onion begins to soften, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, chipotle or smoked paprika and salt and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Add water and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the sweet potato is tender, 10 to 12 minutes.  (I actually cooked it for much longer – like an hour.)

Add beans, tomatoes and lime juice; increase heat to high and return to a simmer, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.

Published in: on December 2, 2019 at 3:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

To try: Garlicky Tofu Tabbouleh

from America’s Test Kitchen “Vegan for Everybody”

Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
6 servings

3 tomatoes (cored and cut into ½-inch pieces)
Salt and pepper
½ cup medium-grind bulgur (rinsed)
¼ cup lemon juice (2 lemons)
14 ounces extra-firm tofu (cut into 2-inch pieces)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves (minced)
teaspoon cayenne pepper
cups minced fresh parsley
½ cup minced fresh mint
2 scallions (sliced thin)

Toss tomatoes with ¼ teaspoon salt in fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl and let drain, tossing occasionally, for 30 minutes; reserve 2 tablespoons drained tomato juice. Toss bulgur with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and reserved tomato juice in a bowl and let sit until grains begin to soften, 30 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, spread tofu on a paper towel–lined baking sheet and let drain for 20 minutes. Gently press dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Pulse tofu in food processor until coarsely chopped, 3 to 4 pulses. Line baking sheet with clean paper towels. Spread processed tofu over prepared sheet and press gently with paper towels to dry.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add tofu and cook, stirring occasionally, until tofu is lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. (Tofu should start to sizzle after about 1½ minutes; adjust heat as needed.) Push tofu to sides of skillet. Add 1 teaspoon oil and garlic to center and cook, mashing garlic into the skillet, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir mixture into tofu. Transfer to a bowl and let cool for 10 minutes.

Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice, remaining 3 tablespoons oil, cayenne, and ½ teaspoon salt together in large bowl. Add drained tomatoes, soaked bulgur, cooled tofu, parsley, mint, and scallions and toss to combine. Cover and let sit until bulgur is tender, about 1 hour. Toss to recombine and season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Recipe Notes

When shopping, don’t confuse bulgur with cracked wheat, which has a much longer cooking time and will not work in this recipe. You can substitute firm tofu for the extra-firm in this recipe.

Published in: on November 17, 2019 at 3:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

Kale Caesar Salad

From America’s Test Kitchen “Vegan for Everybody” via Sandy Ruggles

Serves 4-6

For Salad

16 ounces curly kale, stemmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
5 ounces baguette or rustic 100 percent whole-grain bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (4 cups)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt

For Dressing

6 Tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
1 1/2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 Tablespoons capers, rinsed
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 teaspoon Dijon mutard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Place the kale in a large bowl, cover with warm tap water (about 110 degrees), and let site for 10 minutes.  Dry thoroughly.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Toss bread with oil, pepper and salt in bowl.  Spread on rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden and crisp, about 15 minutes; set aside and cool completely, about 15 minutes.  (Croutons can be stored at room temperature for up to 24 hours.)

Process mayonnaise, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, capers, vinegar, Worcestershire, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper in blender until smooth, about 30 seconds.  With blender running, slowly add oil until emulsified.  Toss kale with dressing in large bowl and refrigerate for ate last 20 minutes or up to 6 hours to chill.  Toss salad with croutons and serve.

Published in: on November 17, 2019 at 3:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mashed Potatoes

Anna & Sean’s favorite.

For one.  Multiply to serve more people.

1 russet potato
1-2 Tablespoons cream, half & half, whole milk, 2%, 1% or non-fat milk (in decending order of richness and deliciousness)
1-2 teaspoons of butter

Peel the potato and cut it into 1″ slices.  Cut the slices into 1″ chunks and put them in a sauce pan big enough for your potato masher to fit into.  Cover with filtered water by 1″, add a big pinch of salt, cover the pan, and set on the stove over medium heat.

Meanwhile, pour the cream into a glass measuring cup and add the butter.  Set it on the back of the stove to warm.

Put your colander in the sink.

When the potatoes are boiling, turn the heat down a bit and let them simmer until just tender – 15 minutes or so?  Poke the tip of a knife, or a fork, into a couple of the chunks:  they should give very little resistance.  You do not want them overly mushy or waterlogged, but you don’t want them hard in the middle either.

When they are done, pour the potatoes and cooking water into the colander, then turn the potatoes back in the pot, on the hot burner, with the lid off, to let them dry out for a minute or so.

Turn the heat to low.  Mash with the masher until pretty smooth.  Add the warm cream and butter and mash again.  Cover and hold ’til dinner time.  Stir again before serving – you may need to add a little more butter or cream to get the consistency you prefer.

Published in: on November 9, 2019 at 6:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

Barefoot Contessa Orzo with Roasted Vegetables and Feta


Slightly modified from Barefoot Contessa Parties! by Ina Garten, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2001

I significantly reduced the amount of olive oil in the dressing and it is still luxurious and delicious.

1 small eggplant, peeled and 3/4″ diced (I don’t care for eggplant so I left it out)
1 red bell pepper, 1″ diced (I used an orange bell pepper)
1 yellow bell pepper, 1″ diced
1 red onion, peeled and 1″ diced
1 jar whole small white onions, drained (optional)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound orzo

3 T freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
2 T good olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To assemble:
4 scallions, sliced thin (white & green parts)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 lb good feta, 1/2″ dice
15 fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade

Preheat the oven to 395 degrees. (Ina says 425 but my USA Pan baking sheets don’t want to go over 400, and this worked fine for me.) Toss the eggplant, bell peppers, red onion, whole onions, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, and pepper on a large baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, turn with a spatula, then roast 20 more minutes, until browned.

Meanwhile, cook the orzo in boiling salted water for 7 to 9 minutes, until tender. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl.  (This can be done ahead.  The orzo can be used cold from the fridge – the hot vegetables warm it up just fine.)

Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta, scraping all the liquid and seasonings from the roasting pan into the pasta bowl.

For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and pour onto the pasta and vegetables. Let cool to room temperature, then add the scallions, pine nuts, feta, and basil. Check the seasonings, and serve at room temperature.

Published in: on November 9, 2019 at 1:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Lentil Quinoa Salad

Slightly modified from a recipe on Noshtastic

Vegan and gluten-free.  Great for a potluck.

1/2 cup green lentils , rinsed
3/4 cup quinoa , rinsed
1 cup cherry tomatoes , quartered
1/3 cup golden raisins, chopped if large
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1/3 cup finely chopped seeded cucumber
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 tsp grated lemon rind
5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Pick over the lentils and rinse with cold water.  Cook according to the instructions on the package, adding 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar and 1 teaspoon ground pepper. Once they are cooked, drain and allow to cool.
  2. Rinse the quinoa in a sieve and cook in a separate pan according to the instructions on the package. Once cooked, remove from the heat and fluff with a fork.
  3. Combine the lentils, quinoa, tomatoes, raisins, onion, cucumber, parsley and mint in a large bowl.
  4. Make the dressing:  Mix together the lemon rind, lemon juice, olive oil and salt.  Pour over the salad and toss well.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Refrigerate.
  6. Let sit at room temperature for a half-hour or so before serving.  Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
Published in: on September 22, 2019 at 4:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

Smitten Kitchen’s Corn, Cheddar & Scallion Strata

Corn, Cheddar and Scallion Strata
Adapted from Gourmet’s 2003 spinach strata

Whole wheat sourdough is a great choice for this dish.  Or do half sourdough and half whole wheat.  A baguette or country bread will also work here. You could deliciously replace the parmesan with a crumbly salted cheese such as feta, ricotta salata or queso fresco; use just 1/2 to 2/3 cup instead

Serves 6 to 8

1 tablespoon butter
3 cups fresh corn (cut from 3 small-to-average cobs)
1 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions (both white and green parts from a 4-ounce bundle)
8 cups whole wheat, country or French bread in 1-inch cubes (weight will vary from 10 to 14 ounces, depending on bread type)
2 cups (6 ounces) coarsely grated sharp cheddar
1 cup (2 ounces) finely grated parmesan
9 large eggs
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (optional)
2 3/4 cups milk
1 teaspoon table salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Generously butter a 3-quart baking dish (a lasagna or 9×13-inch pan works well here too). Toss corn and scallions together in a medium bowl. Combine cheeses in another bowl. In a large bowl, gently beat eggs and mayo together, then whisk in milk, salt and lots (or, if measuring, 1/2 teaspoon) of freshly ground black pepper. Spread one-third of bread cubes in prepared baking dish — it will not fully cover bottom of dish; this is fine. Add one-third of corn, then cheese mixture. Repeat layering twice with remaining bread, corn and cheese. Pour egg mixture evenly over strata. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 1 day.

When ready to bake, heat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake strata, uncovered, until puffed, golden brown and cooked through, about 45 to 55 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Do ahead: Strata keeps baked in the fridge for 4 days or longer in the freezer, wrapped well. It reheats wonderfully, either from the fridge or freezer and holds up well in lunch boxes.

Published in: on August 26, 2019 at 9:04 am  Leave a Comment